Fire Department & a Sleepover
This morning I instructed mom’s furnace to follow the thermostat programming, rather than hold the house temp at 45 degrees, and vacuumed the detritus I tend to trail into her house once a week via my work boots, while checking the phone messages after blowing the drive, walks and deck, in order to make the place look inhabited. With the addition of cobweb mitigation and baseboard vacuuming, the place looked pretty spiffy! I then headed for the ferry terminal to pick mom up.
We had a good drive back, and a successful grocery shopping trip, aided by a shopping list, for which I was scribe. I made sure mom was settled, headed back to my place to put my groceries away, and found something more to eat other than a little leftover pasta, a banana and cheetos for the day (it was 3pm, I’d driven 150 miles!).
The phone was extraordinarily active as I tried to nibble on goat cheese, roast garlic, and olive oil (the preferred transport method to one’s mouth for this concoction is an organic blue corn chip). The third call was from mom. The smoke detector was screeching at her in the background. She asked in a tone, bordering on upset, “Can you hear that noise? What is it???” I explained it was the smoke detector, and asked what was going on. Predictably, she denied all responsibility for setting it off. I asked where she was, and then asked her to move to the kitchen (away from the squawking device) so we could hear each other. She told me she’d turned the temp up on the thermostat, and that’s when the smoke detector fired off. I replaced (and reinstalled the detectors) the batteries in the smoke detectors recently so was concerned that the detector might actually be detecting something. When mom said it seemed smokey, I told her I’d be right over. I grabbed my purse, a large fire extinguisher, and drove over in about 40 seconds, emergency blinkers flashing.
There was definitely an odd odour, tho not classic smoke. It was a cross between Hot, Electrical, and Particulate. I spent 90 seconds looking for the source of the trouble, in the house and garage, and then told mom we needed to call 911. She was on board.
Bottom line, the furnace motor burned itself up. By the time the fire dudes (lots of them) zeroed in on the furnace, their fancy cameras told them the motor was 400 degrees. This was at least 40 minutes after mom called me. The motor was considerably warmer when the smoke detector got excited. The furnace motor (very different from the furnace burners), in toasting itself, sent tremendous heat back up the cold air return ducting, and into the house, burning the dust as it did so. The burning dust is what set off the smoke detector. The first time we turn on our furnaces in the fall we get that burning dust odour. The difference is that the heat from the motor sent the heat backwards through the duct work, burning years of accumulated dust, that otherwise would never have been ignited. This is a commercial for having one’s ducts cleaned! I am thankful this breakdown didn’t happen while I was on my way to pickup mom from the ferry terminal. While I think the motor failure was a self limiting problem, ya never know.
Mom is hanging out here, as there is no heat at her place. I’m relieved, delighted, joyous, to say that she and I had a delightful evening, having dinner, watching a fabulous program on Hampton Court, and then a new Sherlock program, part of which she snoozed through. I’m relaxed! This bears exploration.
Our furnace gurus, who were at our house today, will be at her house tomorrow to diagnose.